17 answers

My 10 Year Old Son Won't Do His Work

OK, I am at my whits end with my 10 year old son. He refuses to do his homework. It doesn't matter what it is, he won't do it until he gets in trouble for not doing it. He was so behind that on his progress report he had all F's. I have 4 kids and my husband is deployed so I feel like I'm drained all the time, especially with my 10 year old testing the limits. My older so (14) has ADD also, but has never given me the grief my 10 year old currently is. He had 3 weeks worth of spelling homework to make up and only did some of it. He has a huge project due in 2 days and I didn't know about it until a day ago. He also has a science project due in 3 days. I feel like I yell at him from the time he gets up in the morning (trying to make him hurry up and not be late for school, doesn't matter what time he gets up, he's always late) until he goes to bed at night and I'm to the point of tears. When he gets home in the afternoons it's a fight to get him to do his homework. I took him out of read 180 because the teacher was a joke, so now I have him read to me every day too (if he reads to me I read to him). But most of the time he won't read to me and ends up spending most of his time in his room because I don't know what else to do with him and frankly I get sick of yelling at him, or even looking at him. And it's not like I don't help him with his projects and homework. When he has writing homework I find myself doing most of it for him because I'm just so sick of yelling, and that goes for these projects that are due too. I end up doing most of the work. I just want to cry, I really do. This is so hard. My husband has already been to Korea, and Iraq (this is his 2nd deployment) so it's not like I haven't done this by myself before, but I really just want to shake him and shake him until he does SOMETHING, ANYTHING besides just sitting there doing NOTHING. I have told him that I don't care if he has to do 4th grade again, and I really don't. I shouldn't have to do his homework for him it's rediculous (sp?). He does the same thing with his math homework. I will go over the first 5 or 6 problems with him and he'll sit down to do the rest and say that he doesn't understand. He can't follow the steps, he can't multiply, he can't do it (insert whiny 10 year old voice). And I want to pinch his head off. He wants someone else to do everything for him, I'm willing to help, but I'm not in 4th grade anymore, it's not my homework and I shouldn't have to hold his hand all the way through it. He should, at 10, be able to work somewhat independently shouldn't he??? He should be able to write a paragraph without help, he should be able to do spelling homework without being yelled at. HELP!!!!! (He does have ADD...inattentive...big surprise...but he's on meds for it.)

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Holy cow! I just wanted to thank everyone SO SO much for all the input. It was so good to hear that I'm not alone in this. You are all awesome. Andrew ended up getting A's on both of his projects, and catching up on his missing homework. After I wrote this request I went into his room to talk to him and ask him what I/we needed to do to get it done. But I started to cry. I was so frustrated and so tired of fussing at him. (What I call yelling is what other's would call talking a little louder than normal. I'm a very quiet person normally=) The only time the kids have really seen me cry is at TV shows and movies, so I think that this freaked him out a little. Haha (I can laugh now!) After my "meltdown" he came out and got to work and I didn't have to fuss at him (very much) after that. I've also started reading "The Minds of Boys - Saving Our Sons from Falling Behind in School and Life" by Michael Gurian and Kathy Stevens. It has really opened my eyes to the crisis that boys in school are facing today. They learn in a completely different way from girls (in general) and we need to change the way our sons are taught. I have an older brother and 2 sons and every word resonates loudly. Anyone who has boys or teaches boys has got to get this book. Thank everyone again so much for your support and advice. It takes a village, it really does, thanks for being in mine=)

Featured Answers

Have you talked to his Teacher about it or the school counselor? My DD is in 2nd grade and I have to stay on top of her to get her to do her homework. Her teacher has really helped with the issue. If my DD gives me too hard of a time and her homework is sloppy her teacher will make her do it again and this helps because my DD does not want to do it again. Is it possible that he is also acting out with the deployment?

You know I know exactly hwere you are coming from. I have a 10 yr old son that is doing the samne thing and I dont have a clue what to do or even where to start. I mean we are in the exact same situation when it comes to the boys. I have tried to take everything away from him but it still doesn't work. So let me know when you find something that works and I will do the same. Good Luck.

More Answers

Where are you located? Some schools have a homework club for them to stay after school and get help with tutors. It's free. Or, some of the after school clubs at the child and youth services offer some homework help but that costs. Check with the school because they usually have mentor programs and can find someone for your son to help him with his homework. That is also free. If you can address the homework issue then it will help him feel successful in something and maybe that will help him all around. You could check out your local cub scouts and see if you can get him into some of their summer activities (starts in June). Maybe some other boys and good role models would help him some. If you are in the KMC area, let me know and I can see about helping you find scouts if you are interested.

I am a teacher in DoDDS so I think the first step is to talk to his teacher about reducing the amount of his homework. Since he is diagnosed ADD, then it is reasonable to ask his teacher to make accommodations for him so that he can be successful. For example, he should do half as many math problems as his classmates. You want to focus on the quality of his work, not the quantity.
If possible, set up a consistent routine after school. He should come home, maybe have a snack, then do homework. If he is very restless after school then give him 20 minutes before he starts homework to do something active, i.e. ride bikes, play outside, etc. When the 20 minutes is up then he needs to do his homework. Instead of yelling and fighting with him, have him sit there until it is finished. You are willing to help him, but you won't do it for him, and you won't help him if he is not attempting to get it done. You may want to set up a reward system where he can earn rewards for completing his homework without complaining.
Since he is ADD it is very important that he goes to bed early enough to get a good nights sleep. You should also limit the amount of time he spends playing video games and watching TV. Those things can be used as rewards, rather than as things that he just automatically gets to do.
If you can afford it, I recommend hiring him a tutor. Many times students will work harder for someone else than they will for their parents. If you can't afford one, then ask at the local high school as there may be students there who need volunteer hours.

I feel your frustration and am sorry you are so overwelmed. Each time Daddy is gone for a while, you are different and each of your children is different, so it only makes sense that your experiences will also be different. My suggestion is to completely change the way homework is done. I suggest you get an adult homework tutor, away from the house so you are not part of any conflict the two experience or maybe without you there the conflict may naturally decrease (think possitive!), and have his daily homework completed that way. For whatever reason, he is not resonding to you right now and you are strung so thin that everything he is doing is getting on your nerves. Not a pleasant place to be for either of you. I suggest you place this "fight" in a professional tutor's hands and leave yourself to find some peace between the two of you. (I truely believe it takes more than one person to raise a child so reaching out for assistance is smart not weak or any other negative word some may think.)

I can so relate to you, I have a 9 year old basically doing the same thing. I will have to consider the tutor because I have just about run out of things to try. He doesn't do school work, I get notes from teachers saying he didn't complete this or that so it's sent home on top of his homework. I have taken privaliges away, grounded him from going outside which is the worst I could to him because he loves to outdoors all the time. I have knocked around the idea of homeschooling, but like you my son doesn't seem to be responding to me.
I am really glad to at least know I am not the only one!
I agree what the first responder said and I will give the advice a try as well.
Also your son maybe angery because dad is deplyed again. I can understand that, too, since Dh is in the Navy.

I feel your pain..but Sorry I have no advice as I have a 17 year old in the same place.. Check to see if your school offers gradespeed this way you can see how many missing papers he has on the computer. Although it doesn't help if they won't do the work or turn it in.


I shouldn't be writing to you actually because I have difficulties with my amost 8 year son, too when it comes to homework--he does it but it can take him up to 2 hours what should take him about 30 minutes and then in my perspective he should be turning in better work than he does (he goes to a German school).

Though my sister has told me of a co-workers of hers who has a daughter who was never on time to go to school. She did talk with a psychologist about the problem and was told that she should put the whole responsibility on the dauther. If she must come too late to school then so be it but she had to take the consequenses. Well, it worked for her that after a few times being to late she cut out the behaviour.

I also have talke with another friend of mine who had similar experience with her son and she only makes sure that he does some homework but she will not look at it nor get involved. It'ts between the kid and the teacher.

Having all that said I think you should go and talk to the teacher and tell them that you are well aware of his problems but that it has come to the point where you are beyond any progress and therefore you will totally step back, let him not do his work and come late to school but support the teacher with anything they impose on him for "punishment." That way the teacher knows you care and at the same time you will have a bit peace in the family again.

I will take the same aproach for the rest of the school year. My son has a homework book in which I make notes like he did not write down his homework etc. So the teacher knows that I'm on top of what is going on but at the same time am not involved. See what kind of communication the teacher will prefer if they go with that approach.

I guess schoolwork is like food, we can't force them to do it (eat it) it's their way of showing they have power, too. For me it's hard to see that my son is working beyond his potential but I guess we can't prevent our kids from making mistakes, they want to have exeriences on their own, just like our parents coudn't help us with our exeriences.

Good luck!

This is a tough one. Keep your chin up. Look at his homework and see if he is capable of doing it all. If he is having trouble doing it, talk to his teachers about adjusting it. However, that doesn't solve your challenge. He still needs to do some homework. Instead of getting after him come up with some positive incentive that he gets when it is done. Time on the playstation/Wii or something or just some quality time with you without having to read or do whatever it is that makes him whine. I know having 4 kids makes it a challenge because I have 3 and mine differ in age as well (11, 4 and 3). Sit them all at the table at the same time to do homework. If the one year old is interested, give her a crayon and a piece of paper. make it a family activity. Sharing and enjoying time together. Drives my 11yo crazy, but it works. It also helps set a system in place with my younger kids to ease them into homework when it is their turn. Next year, look at investing in a school planner and making him have it filled in and initialed by his teacher as to what he has to do. That may help keep on top of his projects and give you and him time to do them in small bites instead of a mad dash to get it completed. Good Luck!

Hi C.,

The first thing I will say is I am so sorry that you are having such a hard time with him, I know the feelings well. Only mine are with a grown man. I would take him back to the Doctor that prescribed the meds and talk to him about all the problems, he may be able to change the meds to something that will help better. Concerta is a time released med that lasts all day and into homework time and that could be just what he needs. Is his Teacher having the same trouble with him while he is at school? You can also call the school and talk with the Teacher and the Counslor there to see what they suggest. He may need to be tested to see if he is at all autistic as that could also be causing the problems that you are having with him at home. You are doing the right thing by venting here and asking for help! You will find hope and even some answers, if not from me then from the other Moms that will respond. Itstead of yelling you could try whispering or talking very low, this sometimes makes people listen where they tune you out if you are yelling. You might also find a punishment that he hates to make him conform to the you must do your homework rule. My Daughter loved listening to her radio and anytime that she would get in trouble, taking that from her hurt her more than any other punishment I could come up with and she started doing as she was asked. I hope that this helps you! God Bless you and yours!

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